Belton Horse Trials is set to stage best ever event in April

Belton Horse Trials looks set to stage the biggest and best Horse Trials (April 4 -6) in the event’s 32-year history thanks to a new partnership between the event organisers and the National Trust.

For the first time visitors to this Spring event can enjoy the thrill of the Horse Trials competition and the beauty of Belton all under one ticket.

Belton Horse Trials Photo courtesy of KBIS Insurance

Superb settingn at Belton Horse Trials
Photo courtesy of KBIS Insurance

“We are delighted to welcome the National Trust as partners in running this exciting weekend,” said event director Stuart Buntine, of Bede Ltd. “This new partnership means we can offer a real action-packed family day out under the banner One Ticket One Belton.”

Whether you buy a ticket for the Horse Trials ( or the House, you can enjoy complimentary access to all the attractions, he explained.

If it is the Horse Trials you have come for, expect to see the crème de la crème. For top Event riders from all over the UK and Europe will be dusting off their boots for Belton Horse Trials the first major international competition of the 2014 season.

“Any competitor who has entered Badminton Horse Trials in May heads for Belton for a warm up,” said Stuart Buntine. “We normally expect 90 per cent of top riders to come and compete for the Lycetts Grantham Cup.”

As well as the eventing, equine enthusiasts can look forward to an Inter-Hunt Relay, Unaffiliated Dressage and Pony Club Mounted Games as well as the showcase Stallion Parade.

Set in the heart of Lincolnshire, the delightful surroundings of Belton provide a fabulous backdrop for a fun-filled family weekend. The event includes a wide range of activities from a Classic Car display to a Dog Show and from long distance running to style and fashion advisory sessions.

With the same ticket you can also enjoy access to the National Trust mansion, the gardens and the adventure playground, as well as a variety of activities put on by the Trust during the weekend.

National Trust General Manager Lincolnshire Alec Gordon is looking forward to the best Belton Horse Trials yet and said there would be something for everybody to enjoy during the weekend.

“The Belton Horse Trials has, over the years, built a reputation, not just for the challenge of the course, the quality of the entry and its international reach, but as an event which has something to appeal to everyone whether from town or country.  The National Trust is proud to have hosted the trials over many years and we are excited at the developments that will make the 2014 trials the best yet,” he said.

For those who prefer four wheels to four legs, come on Sunday  (April 6) when the Grantham Classic Car Club are bringing a huge selection of vehicles from Veterans to Cars of the Eighties and Motor Bikes to VW Camper Vans.

Ladies who like to lunch your day is definitely Friday (April 4) when Stick and Ribbon of Nottingham will be putting on style and fashion presentation at the Ladies’ Charity Luncheon. This is in aid of the Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire Air Ambulance, the event’s chosen charity for 2014.

Whether you are in need of a little retail therapy or you want to shop till you drop, there are up to 100 trade stands set around the three event arenas to help make your day!

A new attraction for this year is the Lincs FM and Rutland Radio “Trot Along Family Day” on Saturday (April 5). Presenters and their street team will be at Belton to entertain the crowds with fun games, music and live entertainment.

Tickets and full details of the three-day programme are now available via the website at  Special early bird rates are available for those who buy tickets online.

British Eventing is set to increase free safety equipment for eventing organisers

More than 300 Reverse Pinning kits have been purchased for British Eventing fixtures, having been introduced in 2011 following testing at important events such as Chatsworth, Houghton and the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in 2010.

Reverse Frangible Pins used on an obstacle. Photo: Kit Houghton

Reverse Frangible Pins used on an obstacle. Photo: Kit Houghton

BE National Safety Officer Jonathan Clissold commented on the significance of this development: “By increasing access to Reverse Pin kits, organisers can increase the opportunity for this important cross country risk-reduction technology to be used at extra fences at more events. Offering them for free removes the barriers of cost in these challenging financial times for organisers and members alike.”

“British Eventing is at the very heart of research in eventing and as such we continually strive to lead the way in safety for both our members in this country and our colleagues around the world.”

Increased safety at Horse Trials to protect rider and horse

Increased safety at Horse Trials to protect rider and horse

Wendy McGowan, Finance Director for BE commented: “BE’s financial commitment to safety has been maintained for over a decade now and this initiative further endorses our commitment.”

British Eventing also offers free replacement for original Frangible Pins that are activated during competition at all BE and/or FEI events in the UK. The only cost to organisers for both new and replacement pins is for post and packaging.

Fourteen years ago, an incident report form applying to falls of horses and/ or riders was develope when the Transport Research Labority conducted film analysis of 100 accidents including 75 cross-country fences and 25 show jumping fences.

It found that the potential for a crushing injury was related to the rotating motion and landing angle of the horse, which when more than 90 degrees could bring a significant risk of crushing injury to the rider.

This happened when the horse hit a fixed obstacle between its knee and elbow. Below this the horse was able to scrabble over – but above this and the horse stayed behind the fence with the rider staying seated or ejected over the fence.

Out of this emerged the need to design a breakable pin with the precise failure strength that would alllow the rail to drop, stopping the horse from rotating or somersaulting. This would enable the horse to hit the rail fairly hard and still keep its feet, but if the critical load was reached the pin would fall, minimising the risk of injury to horse and rider.

Thus the Frangible Pins were devloped and are now an integral part of fence safety in eventing around the world and have been proved to reduce the incidence of rotational falls, potentially saving lives.

Following the successful free issue of  Frangible Pins and sleeves for the last two years, British Eventing has now announced that Reverse Pinning kits will now also be free of charge for organisers.

These kits which are FEI approved will be free to organisers of both BE National events as well as International (FEI) competitions held in the UK.

Reverse Pinning safety measures are now an integral part of fence safety around the world and have been proved to reduce the incidence of rotational falls, potentially saving lives.

The need for them emerged during  Frangible Pin testing at Bristol University, when it was found that in some situations there could be merit in having a pinned rail behind the post rather than in front as is traditional.

Following further testing it was established that in certain situations this Reverse Pinning could have added benefits. Testing showed that for the pin to work consistently and not to fail too easily, a method, other than that of traditional roping, needed to be developed.

A solution was found, which consists of a stainless steel wire which is tightened up to a set tension with a torque wrench. This ensures that the pin consistently breaks when a certain force is applied.




Hickstead’s England v USA polo test match will be a thriller

Polo enthusiasts will relish a top confrontation when two of the highest-rated polo players in the world battle it out in the annual International Arena Polo Test Match at Hickstead on Saturday, March 1.

Tommy Biddle, who has a top goal handicap rating of 10, will lead the USA against England, headed by Chris Hyde, Britain’s highest rated arena polo player at 9-goals. In their last clash on home soil at Hickstead in 2012, England was victorious, and also won an away fixture against USA last year.

Action in the last England v USA arena polo confrontation at Hickstead: Phooto by Equestrian Photojournalist John Periam

Action in the last England v USA arena polo confrontation at Hickstead: Phooto by Equestrian Photojournalist John Periam 01243 584718

Although this will be a tough fixture for the home team, England has enjoyed an unbeaten run on home soil dating back to the first international test match 2008, with wins against South Africa, Scotland, and Argentina as well as the USA.

This Saturday’s match should be a thriller, with the remainder of the USA team comprising Patrick Uretz (5-goals) and Will Tankard (4). England’s captain Chris Hyde will be joined by his son Jack Hyde and also Peter Webb,for what  will be an outstanding match.

Hickstead Chairman John Bunn said: “This is going to be an incredible game of Arena polo. USA not only want to chalk up their first win at Hickstead, they also want revenge for England’s win in USA in January 2013, and have rolled out their number one big gun – 10-goaler Tommy Biddle!”

The day’s action will kick off with the Hickstead 12-Goal Challenge, where Black Eagles will take on the Wales Polo Team. This means visitors will get to witness two thrilling games of arena polo for just £5 per ticket.

Tickets for the arena test match at Hickstead can be bought online at and will also be available to purchase on the gate on the day of the match.Gates open at 10.30am on the day and the match starts at 11.30am.

Plumpton crowd treated to pre-Cheltenham workout by Sire De Grugy

Racegoers were treated to a timely sight of Sire De Grugy working out at Plumpton’s track on Monday prior to racing.The new favourite for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, following the withdrawal of Sprinter Sacre,  had travelled from Gary Moore’s Lower Beeding yard for a workout alongside stablemate Light Well.

Coming up past Plumpton's winning post

Sire De Grugy  coming up past Plumpton’s winning post Photos Jeannie Knight

Spectators who were there 40 minutes before racing started were thrilled to see the chestnut horse with his distinctive white blaze, with usual rider Jamie Moore on board, put through his paces over a mile and a half, with Joshua Moore riding stablemate Light Well alongside.

Gary Moore greets Sire De Grugy following the workout

Gary Moore greets Sire De Grugy following the workout Photos Jeannie Knight

Sire De Grugy had been sent away for a good rest after his last race and Gary Moore explained that he wanted to work him round a left-hand track in preparation for Cheltenham and give him a good blow.

“We were pleased to be able to bring him here today. He needed this piece of work and hopefully it will have put him spot on for Cheltenham,” he said.

Jamie Moore, who rides out Sire de Grugy at home, giving him a very individual routine, added: ” I’m well pleased with him. We have got him where we want him for Cheltenham. He needed that little bit today and I let him stride on up to the top of the hill. He switches off nicely then when he turns in he comes alive.

Both Gary Moore and Jamie were pleased with workout

Both Gary Moore and Jamie were pleased with workout  Photos Jeannie Knight

“All our horses are looking really well at the minute, including him. He’s won left-handed and I know he’s been beaten at Cheltenham but that doesn’t worry me. Hopefully we get him there in one piece and he gives a good account.”


Impressive back to back double for permit holder Daniel Steele stole the show at Plumpton

Permit holder Daniel Steele stole the show at Plumpton yesterday with a back to back double with the two horses he trains near Albourne, outside Henfield in West Sussex. These were the first two wins of his career since he took out his permit 15 months ago.

Hold The Bucks at 15-2 initiated the double when taking the At The Races Handicap Hurdle over two miles under a good ride from Gavin Sheehan.Then talented amateur rider Freddie Mitchell, who is based with Nicky Henderson, won the next race- the Windsor Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase at 10/1 on board According To Them.

Hold The Bucks trained by Daniel Steele and ridden by

Hold The Bucks trained by Daniel Steele and ridden by Gavin Sheehan coming into the winners’ enclosure at Plumpton

Daniel had ridden out for Gary Moore in nearby Horsham for more than seven years, and then worked for Nick Gifford and Anna Newton Smith  before taking out his permit. He brought back Hold The Bucks after two years off to finish second impressively at Plumpton last autumn. The horse, which is only eight, appears to have taken well to fences.

He said:” To have a double is absolutely unbelievable – I fancied them but you don’t think things like this happen. According To Them cost only £400 from the Ascot sales and was in a really bad way. He’s had tendon problems but we can work our horses on the Downs above Edburton and it seems to help.”

According To Them with permit holder Daniel Steele, jockey Freddy Mitchell  and

According To Them with permit holder Daniel Steele (right) and  jockey Freddie Mitchell after the victory

He has his horses at home, where he has four boxes and his successes could spur him to look for two more at the sales. For Freddie Mitchell this was his first winner over jumps, and though has 12 wins to his credit, a number have been in little known countries in the Fegentri series. He is now concentrating on English jumping and has My Tent Or Yours to ride out at Seven Barrows.

Tony McCoy beat Leighton Aspell in a match for the EBF Stallions/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase at Plumpton, riding She Ranks Me, which went past his rival and Baby Shine after the last fence to notch up trainer Donald McCain’s 101st win of the season.

Aidan Coleman is becoming a familiar figure in the Plumpton winners enclosure and he too had a double at the track, winning the opening hurdle race for Emma Lavelle on board Albert Bridge, and completing the double with a 32 length victory for West Sussex trainer Richard Rowe on board Strange Bird in the At The Races Virgin 534 Handicap Hurdle.

Strange Bird with jockey Aiden Coleman, members of the Richard Rowe Partnership and trainer Richard Rowe, back right

Strange Bird with jockey Aidan Coleman, members of the Richard Rowe Partnership and trainer Richard Rowe, back right

It was a popular victory by the nine-year-old mare for the Richard Rowe Racing Partnership and Richard Rowe said: ” She wants this ground because she can be one-paced but she is very honest. I told Aiden to get her jumping but didn’t expect her to win by such a massive margin!”

He paid tribute to Plumpton Racecourse management for its investment in the course, particularly with improved drainage, that has enabled racing to go ahead at the track.

Open day to find out more about college’s highly regarded equine courses

PLUMPTON College in Sussex had a steadily growing reputation for its excellent courses in Equine Studies- and there is an opportunity to find out what is on offer for anyone wanting to pursue a career with horses at an Information Morning at the
college on Saturday March 1 from 9am-12.30pm.

A Plumtpon student with one of the college horses

A Plumtpon student with one of the college horses

Its equine department offers provision of full-time and part-time equine courses, ranging from 14-16 provision through to BSc degree level. Facilities include two large indoor schools with galleries, a 30m x 60m outdoor menage, stabling for more than
40 horses, grazing, a horse walker, show jumping fields and a cross-country course. The stabling itself consists of a traditional courtyard, plus American barn stabling. Student DIY livery and full livery are available.

The college is approved to train BHS exams up to Stage IV level and also arranges BHS examination days for BHS Stage I and II. A simulator horse is among the equine equipment available to students on the yard. The college owns a range of horses from youngsters being backed to ex-competition horses, giving an excellent range of horses for students to learn on. There are also two lovely shire horses that are used in training students in harness work and shown by students and staff at county shows, ridden, driven and inhand.

Following completion of an equine course at this college, students may be able to progrsss to further courses and have employment prospects including riding instructor, livery yard manager, groom/competition groom, work in retail with equine feed and nutrition or equine clothing, event organiser, rider/trainer, work in rehabilitation or equine behaviour, research assistant.

Other courses available at the college range from adventure sport and agriculture through to floristry and forestry, veterinary nursing and wine production.

No booking is needed for the information morning and staff will be able to offer specialist advice on courses, fees, funding and careers.

For more information contact Plumpton College on 01273 8980454 or see <>

Fontwell’s National Spirit Raceday produced some long-priced winners and Plumpton goes ahead today

DESPITE small fields, there were some long-priced winners when racing, supported by a good crowd, returned to Fontwell Park with the National Spirit Raceday on Sunday.

Via Sundown with Joshua Moore and owners Nick Peacock and Nick Roach

Via Sundown with Joshua Moore and owners Nick Peacock and Nick Roach


The opening Josh Gifford Memorial Novice Chase, sponsored by Bet Placepot With Totepool, set the trend. It was fiitting that this race, in memory of Findon trainer Josh Gifford, who died two years ago, was won by a local trainer.

Horsham-based Gary Moore sent out 7-2 shot Via Sundown, ridden by son Joshua, to a comfortable half-length victory over odds-on favourite Benvolio, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Daryl Jacob.

Mrs Althea Gifford, accompanied by son Nick and his wife Ruth presented the trophy to the winning owners

Mrs Althea Gifford, accompanied by son Nick and his wife Ruth, presented the trophy to the winning owners

The trophy for the race was originally the Mad Hatters Trophy presented for an amateur riders flat race at Fontwell Park, which was won by Josh’s widow, Althea, riding one of his horses in 1979. She was at Fontwell, accompanied by her son Nick, who now trains at Downs Stables, Findon, and his wife Ruth, to present it to the winning local owners Nick Peacock and Nick Roach.

The big race of the day, the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle Race worth £50,000, was won in spectacular style at 16-1 by Kayf Moss trained by Bridgend trainer John Flint with his son, Rhys, in the saddle.

Kayf Moss with trainer John Fllnt, jockey Rhys Flint and connections after winning the National Spirit Hurdle race

Kayf Moss with trainer John Flint, jockey Rhys Flint after winning the National Spirit Hurdle race

Kayf Moss got the better of the Alan King-trained  Meister Eckhart in a photo fiinish. Favourite 2-5 Saphir Du Rheu, sent out by Paul Nicholls, was a disappointing fourth with Gary Moore and son Josh on board Chris Pea Green claiming third place.Rhys Flint had extensive treatment for a serious leg injury incurred only three weeks previously because he was determined to ride the horse in the big race.

But delight at winning the race was short-lived when stewards gave the rider a seven-day ban for excessive use of the whip, which wiil preclude him from riding the horse at the Cheltenham Festival. John Flint said of the victory: “I knew from times of previous races that we could beat Saphir Du Rheu.”

Trainer Linda Jewell with Itoldyou and jockey Tom Cannon

Trainer Linda Jewell, third from right  with Itoldyou and jockey Tom Cannon with winning owners’ group

Maidstone-based trainer Linda Jewell was in fine form at the meeting, scoring an excellent double initiated by Itoldyou at 8-1, ridden by Tom Cannon, and completed by 10-1 shot Clonusker with Gerald Tumelty in the saddle in the handicap hurdle later In the card.She said of eight-year-old Itoldyou:”He has plenty of scope and can also go on good ground and up in trip.We got him when we retired our consistent winner She’s Humble and she has gone to stud and been covered.”

Hot Whiskey N Ice was a good 3-1 winner of the Novice Hurdle Race of the day for trainer Noel Wiilliamson and jockey Wayne Hutchinson. The horse also gave the trainer the second win of his career as a trainer, which started when he recently left Alan King, where he had been assistant trainer for many years.

Hot Whiskey N Ice with jockey Wayne Hutchinson, trainer Noel Williams and owners

Hot Whiskey N Ice with jockey Wayne Hutchinson and owners

He said: “It’s my second winner, but I have a lot of young bumper horses coming on and have plenty to look forward to in Spring. I bought this horse at the summer sales because I liked his type. He was not expensive but had a bit of form in Irish point to points and will go on to jump fences.”

Two  favourites did win at Fontwell when Victor Dartnell sent out Richards Sundance at 5-4 to win the Foxhunter trial and Otago Trail won the National Hunt Flat Race, also at 5-4 for Venetia Wiilliams, ridden by Liam Treadwell.

Fontwell Park had pulled out all stops to make the track raceable after unprecedented rainfall and their outstanding effort was rewarded with competitive racing and a good crowd.

*Racing goes ahead at Plumpton in Sussex today with an interesting seven-race card. The first race is at 2.05 and apart from a match in the second race, where horses trained by Donald McCain and Lucy Wadham go head to head, and a smaller field for the amateur riders’ race, other races are well-subscribed and make for an interesting race card.


Support for BHS Trec to be withdrawn by society after 2014 season

The British Horse Society has revealed that 2014 will be the last year that it will support BHS TREC. After this season the society will no longer organise the TREC qualifiers and Championship. A Board meeting earliet this month voted that the financial investment involved was an ‘unsustainable and inappropriate’ use of charity funds.

A Le Trec competitor in action

A  BHS Trec competitor in action

During the past few months The British Horse Society and the TREC Competitions Advisory Committee had been investigating the viability of TREC within the Society. This investigation was requested by the Board of The British Horse Society amid concerns that TREC required a significant investment of charity funds each year. As a charity, The British Horse Society must ensure that its funds support the core aims of education, access, safety and welfare.

At the Board meeting the results of the TREC feasibility study were presented and discussed. The decision was unanimous the financial investment of operating as the governing body of the sport served such a relatively discrete number of people.

The society said: “BHS TREC was brought to Great Britain in the late nineties and it has provided riders with wonderful competitions supported by a loyal group of organisers and volunteers. These dedicated people have made it possible for TREC competitors to enjoy the sport, and we extend our thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years.

“We are hopeful that another organisation may continue with the legacy which the BHS has left to the equestrian community, rising to the challenge of supporting TREC and organising the competitions and associated functions,” said Lynn Petersen, chief executive of The British Horse Society.

BHS TREC has developed the skills a horse and rider needs while out hacking, with three phases testing ability in orienteering, negotiating obstacles and basic flatwork, with competitions throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland catering for all levels of rider from beginners to experts. Enthusiasts are hoping someone will step into the breach to enable the sport to continue.

Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds has impressive squad for coming Flat season

Looking ahead to an exciting Flat season is Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds (KVT), now headed by Sam Hoskins and Piers Winkworth, who have assembled the largest squad of horses for many years for this popular group.

Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds

Late last year they took over from former chairman, Nick Robinson, who was a pioneer of the professional racehorse syndication market.

KVT had successfully managed racehorse syndicates for around 25 years from Nick’s base in Hampshire, and the group’s navy blue with red and white hooped colours became synonymous with smart two-year-olds over the years- ranging from Weatherby’s Super Sprint winner Charles The Great and the exciting two-year-old of last season, Langavat.

KVT's colours carried in winning style

KVT’s colours carried in winning style Photo: KVT

Tullius, a Group 3 winner last season is now back after injury and will join Langavat in spearheading an enhanced KVT team in 2014. Numbers have been bolstered by a host of exciting acquisitions at the recent Goffs and Tattersalls yearling sales, with KVT currently managing ten horses trained by Andrew Balding, Charlie Hills, Olly Stevens, Ralph Beckett and Richard Hannon Jnr.

Five of the squad are two-year-old colts and two exciting young trainers have been added to the list – Classic winner Charlies Hills and Royal Ascot winner Olly Stevens, and all of the trainers are young men at the top of their game.

Sam Hoskins

Sam Hoskins

Explained Sam: ” We are very keen to expand the business and racing’s appeal in general to a younger audience. We will be launching two new syndicates, which we will be targeting at a younger working professionals. This will come under focus at a private morning with trainer Charlie Hills at his Faringdon Place yard, with champagne, a stable tour, and viewing KVT’s Fast Company colt on Charlie’s gallops. Racing at Newbury will follow.

Piers Winkworth

Piers Winkworth

Sam and Piers have just launched a brand new website ( which contains information, images and video of its horses, trainers and the new team. “We have also launched social media tools with our new Twitter and Facebook accounts- keeping our partners up to date in real time,” Sam added.

If you would like more information,  please call Sam Hoskins on 07791 746119 or 0203 542 1620. Alternatively email

Six runners to contest Fontwell Park’s £50,000 National Spirit Hurdle race

Fontwell Park’s meeting, which features the valuable National Spirit Hurdle Race, is set to go ahead tomorrow,Sunday, and will be the track’s first meeting of 2014 following heavy rain which had led to waterlogging at previous meetings.

Saphir Du Rheu Photo: John Simpson

Saphir Du Rheu will bid to take National Spirit Hurdle Race
Photo: John Simpson

Six runners will contest this £50,000 feature race which has been moved up to the third race and will now be the first hurdle race of the afternoon, preceded by the opening Josh Gifford Novice Chase.

The Josh Gifford Memorial Chase at 2.10pm has prize money of £20,000, and a field of five runners. These will include Benvolio trained by Paul Nicholls, Via Sundown, trained at Horsham by Gary Moore with son Joshua in the saddle, and Lamb Or Cod sent out by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Richard Johnson.

The following handicap chase has six runners sent out by trainers including Charlie Longsdon, Venetia Willliams, Paul Henderson and local trainer Lydia Richards who runs her course specialist Venetian Lad, before the National Spirit Hurdle race goes off at 3.10pm.

This valluable feature race sees Bridge End trainer John Flint contesting with Kayf Moss, taking on the Paul Nicholls-trained Saphir Du Rheu. Kayf Moss won by an impressive 27 lengths in a handicap in January while Saphir Du Rheu won the Welsh Champion Hurdle, albeit in a slower time.

John Flint said he was disappointed that Fontwell Park had saved fresh ground and that the National Spirit was being run early in the card. ” I’d rather it got cut up and even more of a test,”  he said.

Saphir Du Rheu is seen as a star of the future  and may not go chasing until next year. If he wins this feature race it will be for the third time in four years after Celestial Halo and Prospect Wells’ victories.

Chris Pea Green is Sussex trainer Gary Moore’s entry while Kayf Moss, Meister Eckhart, Princely Hero, Unowhatimeanharry make up the remainder of the field.

Gates open from 11.30am For more information, visit or call 01243 543335.